An undignified end: Richard III was buried in 'hastily dug and untidy grave'

 

Researchers have revealed the remains of King Richard III, which were discovered under a city car park, were found in a hastily dug, untidy grave.

It is believed that gravediggers may have been in a hurry to bury the murdered king and that his hands could have been bound together. The lozenge-shaped grave was too short to contain the body conventionally and the bones of the last Plantagenet king were placed in an odd position, with the torso crammed in.

Academics from the University of Leicester added that someone is likely to have stood in the grave to receive the body, suggested by the fact the body is positioned to one side rather than placed centrally.

The discovery followed a three-week dig  which started in August at what was once the medieval Grey Friars church in Leicester - now a Leicester City Council car park. Archaeologists announced in February this year that they had discovered the monarch's remains.

Findings by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services are revealed in the journal ‘Antiquity’ as part of the first peer-reviewed paper on the search for Richard III.

The paper outlines key findings from the archaeological investigation of the Grey Friars site. It includes analysis of Richard III's grave and explains the conclusions about the friary's layout based on the remains of the church and cloisters. It also includes initial observations of the condition of the king's skeleton.

Academics said that there were no signs of a shroud or coffin in Richard III's grave, in heavy contrast to other medieval graves discovered in the area which were the correct length and neatly dug with vertical sides.

This is in keeping with accounts from the medieval historian Polydore Vergil, who said Richard III was buried "without any pomp or solemn funeral".

The paper is being made publicly available at antiquity.ac.uk/ant/087/ant0870519.h

Additional reporting by PA

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